Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Vintage Chair Week

Hi, Blog, remember me?

Earlier in the summer, back before the mosquitoes were aggressive enough to carry you away, or deplete your blood supply in a minute flat, I had the naive idea that I might want to entertain outside. And while we have a decent amount of mismatched chairs that could go outside, we didn't actually have a set designated for the outdoors.

Well, actually we still don't, exactly. Here's what happened in the mean time.

My allotted space for a patio is an 11' diameter gravel circle, surrounded by crape myrtles, hydrangeas, camellias, and ferns. All in all, not a bad spot. The bench already in place is a smallish teak Lutyens-style bench that I've had for years. The only problem is, I didn't particularly want to add more wood chairs, and didn't want the added formality of matching the Lutyens bench. I'm still working with the Cottage-meets-Deco theme here.

So I obsessed over outdoor chairs for a couple weeks, and couldn't quite come up with what I wanted, for the price I wanted (cheap!). Then the Ebay gods shined upon me, and I stumbled into an old favorite: a variation of the Marais chair. The original A chair was designed in 1934 by Xavier Pauchard. The story goes that 22 years later his son slimmed down the proportions, added arms, and renamed it the A56. Variations on the chair have been a staple of outdoor seating at French bistros ever since.

The pair that I found have a matte brown powder coat finish, although other brighter finishes are available through Pottery Barn, Design Within Reach. Or through Sundance, as pictured at the top of the post.

I'm very pleased with how the chairs, bench, and Smithy's old iron chess table work together without being at all matchy.

Mission accomplished.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

New Adventures


British Elswick bike on Ebay

Blue JC Higgins on Ebay

Green JC Higgins on Ebay

Bikes on the brain!

I've been on a brand new fitness kick for the last couple months. (More on that later.) As part of the new kick, I'm thinking about getting my first bike in many, many years. I'm actually looking for something much more conventional and modern than these. But I'm smitten by all these retro lovelies I've found on Craigslist and Ebay. Enjoy!

Don't they make you want to pop on a pair or vintage Ray Bans, and ride down a country lane with a picnic basket strapped to the bike!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

High Stepping

Have a happy Independence Day!

We're starting our weekend right about.....

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Dog and the Fruit Trees

Photographic evidence of why we don't end up with many figs at the end of the summer....
Jack likes to snack on them before they're even ripe!

I also have a couple of low-branching apple trees that finally, many years after being planted, have baby apples on the branches. Pointy Boy has decided that small, hard green apples are his next-favorite tasty treat. We all know what havoc green apples can wreak on the digestive system, right? Y'all, it's not good.

I guess one of the joys of being a dog is that absolute living-in-the-moment consciousness, and the bliss of stealing apples from the tree and crunching them up far outweighs the tummy rumbles (and worse) that come later.

Dogs + Gardens - it's a challenge some days.

For Miss Janey... since she mentioned fig trees recently.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Weekend: Angels, Danes, Celts, and Michael Caine

It started out normally enough. On the way home from work I picked up the a couple of books, including the brand new book release, Strange Angels, by author Lilith Saintcrow. I'm telling this all out of order because I have more Book Binge posts in mind, but Lilith's Dante Valentine series turned me into an instant Saintcrow addict. Anyway, Strange Angels is her first foray into the Young Adult market.

I'm not sure what I expected of a Young Adult book. I mean, I've read all the Harry Potter books, a few times. And I like Eoin Colfer's Artemis Fowl series. Somehow though, I had the impression that most YA would kinda hafta be....sweet, with some kind of strong moral message, and with gossipy girls. But come on, this is Saintcrow we're talking about, so her main character, 16 year old Dru Anderson, travels the country with her dad, and helps him kill the bad things that go bump in the night. Dru is independent and tough, she occassionally has Visions, and she can cuss like a sailor. Or like a teenager. The book begins about the time that one of her dad's hunting missions goes very very wrong.

Read it. I lost a rainy Saturday to the book, and don't regret a minute of it. If you're like me, you'll want to know What Happens Next. Luckily, there are at least two more books planned in the series; the next comes out in November.

Also over the weekend, I lost my mind.
Just a little bit.
Over this guy:
That's Dice. He's a 5 month old Harlequin Great Dane, who is being fostered by a rescue group a state away. I went through a major case of the I WANT's over the weekend, and even filled out an adoption application. I was serious enough that Smithy had to invoke the BSC label: BatShit Crazy. BSC usually comes up when someone (hey, it's not always me!) is doing something illogical, and, well, crazy. Perhaps along the lines of wanting to stuff a 4th dog into a tiny house with a bunch of other dogs that don't particularly want a biiiig little brother. I've slowly inched away from the ledge; I don't think we'll get a spotty bundle of joy just yet.

Smithy's fiery midway game, The Kittyroaster

image via

Also over the weekend, I learned that Smithy and his buddies in the Art of Such and Such are really and truly heading to Ireland as part of the performance art for the Electric Picnic festival in September. Smithy had mentioned the possibility months ago, but I was skeptical that it would actually happen. Apparently, yes it will. They're talking plane tickets and passports. So, Smithy and I are thinking about doing a combined Pan-Celtic trip to Ireland and Scotland. I'm at the very beginning stages of planning it, and trying to figure out how much it would all cost, so we'll see where it leads.

And in a last bizarre twist, I got an email from the actor Michael Caine over the weekend.

At least he said he was Michael Caine, and he was commenting on an old blog post that I did. As I mentioned in the post, the actor, Michael Caine, collects glassware by the Art Deco era designer/glassworks company Degue. Email-Michael-Caine thanked me for the post, and then pointed me in the direction of a link to an Australian interview with him about his collection. Which is pretty much the same link I had shown in my post.

And this particular 'Michael Cain' doesn't know that the real Michael Caine spells his name with an 'e' at the end.

Actor Michael Caine seems like a charming and intelligent gentleman. And he certainly seems like someone who would know how to spell his own name.

Dear Trolls and Aussie TV PR Flaks, if you're going to impersonate someone famous, please learn how to spell their names!

Love, the Great Dame

Monday, May 4, 2009

Four Things

1) An add-on to book binge vampires... J.R. Ward's latest installment of the Black Dagger Brotherhood, Lover Avenged = very very good.

2) While surfing around for other things, I found this website: Loves Vampires. It's a website dedicated to 'vampire fiction' and they occasionally interview authors. There's a fairly recent interview with J.R. Ward that gives an interesting insight into how she views her own characters.

3) Vampire-ish, but not strictly related, I can't say enough good things about the Cleolinda Jones: Occupation, Girl site, especially her installments of The Secret Lives of Dolls (SLoD). Cleo is a writer of many talents and much humor. She is also a doll/action figure collector, and her Shelfian community is a pan-fandom mash-up of characters from a variety of movies, including several characters from Lord of the Rings, The Golden Compass, Pirates of the Carribbean, Van Helsing, and probably a few more. And, as of last week, the community on the Shelf also includes not one but two sparklepire versions of Edward Cullen from the Twilight saga. Once you get past any lingering hesitation you might have about reading about dolls, then it's a fantastic and hilarious serial story -with photos!- about a bunch of characters that you probably already like. And Cleo's ability to draw out different sides of the same character, the way she's done with The Littlest Edward and Tonner Edward (or EdwardTallen, take your pick) is wonderfully insightful. Go check it out!
Occupation, Girl's Secret Life of Dolls: The Littlest Edward

4) X Men Origins: Wolverine = hell yes!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Book Binge, Part I: the Vamps

Thanks to a childhood viewing of a vampire movie at the public library, my own personal bogeyman under the bed was a vampire.

You know, that scary thing lurking just below the bed, waiting to grab you by the ankles after you turn out the light? That thing that inspires your kid-self to take a flying leap onto the bed from halfway across the room? Yeah, that one. So maybe that goes a little way to explaining my interest in vampire books.

Love 'em or hate 'em, they're everywhere in popular fiction right now, thanks in part to the huge commercial success of Twilight. Enough so that it's hard to sort out the junk from the worthwhile.

Vampire Garden poster, Madame Talbot's

If you like your vamps with actual fangs, then Charlaine Harris's Sookie Stackhouse series, starting with Dead Until Dark, is good. And HBO's, um, loosely-inspired True Blood series is very good. In the series, Sookie is a human telepath living in rural Louisiana, who comes to the aid of new neighbor, vampire Bill one night. Thanks to that encounter, she becomes more and more involved with different members of the supernatural community. The downside for this reader is that she generally gets the shit beaten out of her a few too many times for my taste. Beyond her ability to read minds, Sookie is pretty much just like everyone else; no superhuman senses, no extra strength. As a result, she gets the worse end of lots of encounters with the supernaturals. A part of Sookie's charm as the series progresses, is that she manages to hold on to her own moral compass even as she loses some of her earlier naivete and innocence.

Jeaniene Frost levels out the playing field a bit more with her Halfway to the Grave series. Cat Crawfield is a rare half-vampire, with some big ol' daddy issues. Her mom has raised her to hate all vampires, and Cat is on a self-destructive mission to kill 'em all. You just know that plan is going to hell, right? Cat is one smart-mouthed badass, and her vampire-killing cohort, Bones, is equally chilling - and funny.

Dracula poster, Madame Talbot's

Third up on the recommendation list is a much dicier proposition: JR Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood series, starting with Dark Lover.

Dicey because these books are campy. The titles are silly. The female leads devolve into complete Mary Sues, at some point after the Magic HooHoo encounter (here and here). And the spelling, dear God: unnecessary use of H's as far as the eye can see - it gets rhidiculous.

But you know what? They are also a blast to read; even the Smart Bitches think so - sort of. Dark Lover kicks off the series with Wrath, the last purebred vampire on the planet, and leader of a warrior brotherhood. Um, yeah. So anyway, Wrath has been entrusted to watch over the half-breed daughter of his best friend, all while he and his brothers-in-arms fight their mortal enemies, the evil Lessening Society. Lots of broody vampire manliness, sticky sex scenes, and evil ass-kicking ensue. I can't wait to pick of the newest installment in the series, which comes out this week.

And as for vampire-to-vampire comparisons, any of the above vamps and vamp hunters would be fully capable of tying Edward Cullen in a knot, and stomp on his little emo heart.

And if you still can't get enough of the bloodsuckers, check out the Victorian-themed posters at Madame Talbot's.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

I am a Reader

I am a Reader.
I am a devourer of books.

I was the kid who had to be told to put the book down and go outside to play.

All this time that I've been AWOL from the blog?
Big-time book binge.

I get completely OCD if the book is remotely good, and I have to finish it now.

Admittedly, it doesn't take much for me to go on a book bender, but this time it was triggered by some crazy work projects. I had two projects, nearly back-to-back, that had quick, intense deadlines, and that required lots of overtime and even some of my weekend time. Other people exercise, or connect with friends when they're stressed. My default relaxation method when life gets crazy like that? Books. I go into my own shell, and live vicariously through someone much more adventurous than the real me. And the more escapism elements, the better.

So, as I'm emerging slowly from the bender, I thought I'd share some of my recent discoveries. I've run across some great books, and some not-so-great. Thanks to last fall's Twilight obsession (I know, I know, it's even good, but the series is completely cracktastic. Until the fourth book...), I've been hitting the SciFi/Urban Fantasy genre pretty hard, majoring in vampires and werewolves, with a minor in 'things that go bump in the night', and continued emphasis on chicks that kick ass.

Before we jump into the books, let's set the scene. Here are a couple of name generators to get you in the mood:
Vampire Name Generator
Goth Name Generator
Morbid Name Generator

Feel free to call me Ella West, Curse of the Steely Moon; or Warped Perception (or is that Ms. Perception?); or Lilith Spiderdust - take your pick.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009


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Jack, enjoying the spring sunshine.

Friday, March 13, 2009

An Art-filled Spring: Living with Art

Finch mug, on right, by Rebekah Strickland
Forged copper band by Thomas Clarkson

One of the joys of having art and, let's call them 'interesting objects', is displaying it in such a way that you can enjoy it on a daily basis. So, with that goal in mind, I've been shuffling paintings and art objects around the house and trying out different things.

One of the things I've learned in the process is that while I dislike the idea of a 'tablescape' , the reality is that combining smaller objects in a grouping can be a great way to get a bigger impact.

Finch mug, on right, by Rebekah Strickland
Forged copper band by Thomas Clarkson

Detail, Forged copper band by Thomas Clarkson

Some time last year, Smithy bought this 3D piece (below) at a small art show. The theme of the show was using old vinyl records in new ways; I read this piece as a torso, made from melted records. The piece has kinda grown on me as we've had it, and having a three dimensional piece really enlivens the corner of the room.

I hadn't realized it, but apparently I've also renewed my interest in ceramics lately. One of the great things about my old house is that each of the rooms has an old fireplace with a deep mantel, perfect for displaying things. So, given that, what kitchen doesn't need a primitive ceramic owl and a couple of Southern folk art face jugs here and there?!
Red owl and small face jug by
Grace Nell Hewell, Southern potter

Keeping up the theme of earth tones brightened with red, I added a couple of my own old painting above the secretary - elephants!

And, inspired by the March cover of Elle Decor with a framed piece of fabric used as art, I'm trying to decide how to use this piece of Thomas Paul fabric. I'm toying with the idea of framing pieces of it, and displaying it on either side of this print on the big blank wall above the sofa. I'll just have to decide whether to emphasize the birds or the flowers if I cut it up....

More information about Grace Hewell and the Hewell Pottery in North Georgia HERE.
The history of southern pottery face jugs HERE.
Framed Reindeer print by Scott Dupree.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

An Art-filled Spring; or What I Did on My Blogging Vacation

Painting by Scott Dupree

Back from blogging hiatus....
The last several weeks have been busy to say the least. And two of the things that I do when stressed from a hectic life is to escape into art and interesting images, and escape into books (more on that later).

Matador #2, Scott Dupree

So, inspired in part by the ongoing discussions about including art in your everyday life over at Style Court, I've gone to a couple of gallery openings from one end of Atlanta to the other lately. Smithy and I checked out Clayton Santiago's beautiful, moody paintings at the Emily Amy Gallery a couple weeks ago. (Check out Clayton's website HERE.) It's well worth a visit to see his paintings as well as the other works represented at the gallery. And check out the newly emerging Westside Arts District while you're at it.

Flier, Scott Dupree

I also took in the recent opening at the Swan Coach House Gallery: Scratching the Surface: Southern Mark-making in Arts and Crafts. It's an interesting show that incorporates work in several genres: painting, ceramics, metal, and wood. While at the show, I even got carried away enough to purchase two pieces - a pair of ceramic mugs by the talented Rebeka Strickland. Check out the slide show at the link above. (I bought the doe mug!)

Reindeer, Scott Dupree

On the slate for this weekend is a show that I'm really excited about; an art reception for our friend Scott Dupree at the Portal Gallery (also home to the Atlanta Printmakers' Studio), located in the West End. Through Smithy, I've met a lot of talented artists, but Scott's work is consistantly among my favorites. All of these older works shown are acrylic and wax crayon on panel. Rumor, i.e. Smithy, has it that the new show will have a lot of works on paper.

Trojan Horse #2, Scott Dupree

Trojan Horse #3, Scott Dupree

We Want You, Scott Dupree

Friday, February 13, 2009

In Honor of Valentine's Day....

Mermaids? Mer-people?
17th Century booty call?
Whatever, share the love, people!

These images are just a glimpse of the many, many, many amazing tile panels
at the Fronteira Palace, built in the 1660's outside of Lisbon, Portugal.

Hope you all have a happy weekend with your main squeeze.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

oooh, pretty!

Pavilion and detail, Stourhead

I'm having a crazy-busy week, and it looks like it's going to continue in the same vein for a bit, so blogging will be spotty. In the mean time, enjoy some favorite gardens images.

Grotto, Stourhead

All images mine. Taken at Stourhead, UK.